In late 2018 Netgear acquired Meural – the maker of ‘Canvas’ smart art frames that allow you to have some of the most beautiful pieces in the world hanging on your wall at home.
It just launched in Australia, and in a recent briefing we were able to see it in action. All was going to plan until the reps told us that customers had the ability to upload their own photos, videos, and GIFs.
“So you could display memes on it?” asked Fergus Halliday from PC World.
It all went downhill from there.
But first, the facts.
The Meural Canvas works in the same way as a smart photo frame. It’s also reminiscent of Samsung’s Frame TV.
It has a matte finish to minimise glare and gesture control (so you don’t have to touch it) and Amazon Alexa integration.
It also includes automatic orientation match for both vertical and horizontal displays, which means it’s being marketed as something you can either hang or strategically position on other furniture in your house.
The Meural Canvas comes with one hundred pieces of art pre-loaded, but thanks to its Wi-Fi capabilities, can also connect to thousands more.
That costs extra ($70 a year), but you get a three year subscription to the Meural Art Library for free when you buy one of the models.
As someone who believes in supporting the arts, I was happy to find out that 50 – 60 per cent of the subscription fees go back to the artists, so that’s something.
It’s worth noting that the majority of the beautiful Meural shots in the press pack have a glaring omission – the cord.
While some cord types are more obvious than others (the black, for example), it’s going to be rare that you won’t be able to see it in some capacity in the real world.
Even though the Australian versions of the Canvas are set to come with white cords, they’re still going to be visible.
While it’s theoretically possible for someone to hide it within the walls of their house, It’s probably going to be an exception to the rule. That’s a huge amount of effort for such a specific piece of tech/art that the company says it wants to see multiples of in the home.
In real life, the cord and accompanying brick of a power brick are overt and most customers are unlikely to be able to hide it so easily.
One of the standout features of the Canvas is the ability to upload your own art, photography and videos remotely.
This information was clearly geared towards nice, normal people who would think about being able to upload snaps even when they’re away from their family.
But in this particular situation it resulted in three tech journos from PC World, WhistleOut and of course, ya girl from Gizmodo, ruin the briefing.
We suddenly had the overwhelming urge to test the upload capabilities, because that’s our jobs and we are here to serve the important details to you, the readers.
And we could think of no better way to put a $1,300 piece of art that through its paces than to slap Donald Glover’s face on it.
As we discovered, the app was pretty easy to use once you became familiar with it. And it was equally simple to upload a picture to both it and the canvas.
Meme Lords: Alex Choros and Fergus Halliday upload DonaldGloverPizza.gif to the Meural app
Sadly, we couldn’t get a GIF working and despite being told on the day that video isn’t supported, we have since been told that some file types will be allow GIF and videos to work.
Wouldn’t you want to come home to this every day?
As lovely (and in our case, funny) as the Meural Canvas is, it has quite a steep price tag attached. There are currently two models – a black and white frame for $1,199 and a chestnut frame for $1,299. You can learn more here.
While I’m disappointed by the impact that the cord has on the aesthetic, this is a first gen product for Australia and it was indicated during the briefing that improvements were going to be made for future versions.
I’m looking forward to seeing what can be done to improve the functionality of the design in the coming years.
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